Curbing your “stubborn independence”

At the Detroit Tigers game

Wow, what a whirlwind week it’s been. My family and I have just returned from a week in Detroit, Michigan where we celebrated the bar mitzvah of one of our cousins. In addition to all the party festivities, we took in a Detroit Tigers baseball game, and I was interviewed on Detroit Fox 2 News and had a book talk/signing co-sponsored by a local independent bookstore called Book Beat while we were there.

One of reasons I love speaking around the country is the opportunity to engage others in a dialogue about mitzvahs and the proactive way each of us can choose to do this.

Visiting with friends and family after the book signing

One of my favorite moments at Monday night’s book event was when the discussion turned to allowing someone to assist you. One of our cousins,  who’d attended that evening and has MS, mentioned that she is “stubbornly independent” but has realized that when she allows another to help her, she offers a chance for someone else to do a mitzvah on her behalf. I know I have spoken about this previously on the blog but she said it so eloquently and with such candor that it reminded me again that being on the receiving end of a mitzvah, while perhaps more difficult, does allow the flow of giving to continue.

Ironically, on the airplane ride home, we were deplaning in Portland and a mother with a baby on her hip, tried to jostle her suitcase out from the overhead bin. Two other passengers offered their assistance to help but she kept saying, “it’s really heavy but it’s okay I don’t need any help.” Her refusal for any assistance did make others nervous that she might pull the bag out and drop it on the babies head.

This mother’s “stubbornness” pushed the other passengers away when they were offering their assistance. Sometime we need to push away our pride and accept help and generosity from another, because when we do, we just might be making the giver’s day too!!

Be gracious and allow another to give to you, receiving that mitzvah with open arms.


A Bat Mitzvah and receiving what is offered

Next week is my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. It will be celebrated with many family members and friends at an outdoor camp that my daughter has attended for many years called Willowbrook. It is a summer arts camp and it is there that she has discovered her love of drama, singing and music. We are excited for the weekend festivities and I am working hard to keep my to do list under control. I am so grateful for the help we have received from clergy, tutors, friends and family to help us prepare for such a big life cycle event.

Mitzvah idea for this week: receive help graciously. Sometimes in this life we give and sometimes we receive. This week I am open and receptive to as much help as I am offered and help I might need to ask for as well. It is the best option for sanity.

Have a great week. I’ll post again soon!

——– Just had to add a little post script! WordPress just notified me that this is my 360th post on this website. In Judaism, 18 means to life and many Jews use the multiples of 18  – 36, 54, 72 etc. when we give gifts and make donations. It is a significant number and I love the fact that this simple post about my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah coincides with this awesome number of posts. In case, you didn’t realize, I love synchronicity.

Carpool Mitzvahs Received

As any parent knows, driving your children to their activities can really take it’s toll. I literally feel some days that when that school bell rings at 3:05pm I am shlepping one or the other of my children for nearly the next four hours. I am new to this carpool game having held off for years on the multiple day commitment for activities, preferring to let my kids just choose one activity each so the shlepping wouldn’t get out of control. This year it seemed unlikely for that to continue, especially  if they were to continue to participate in their Hebrew school lessons and atleast one physical activity each. So this year has become a bit of a logistical carpool checker game.

However, help arrived recently from two different sources. Two parents heading near my house on the way to school  and from Hebrew school both offered to drive my daughter this year. The catch in both of these situations is that neither have expected me to reciprocate. One even said, “No big deal, just pay it forward.”

It’s been remarkably hard for me to simply accept these two offers even though I know I’ve done my share of offering and shlepping other kids over the years. Both of these offers have helped ease the burden, but have also made me feel  like I am taking advantage of someone’s generosity. This different prospective though is a good one to acknowledge. Throughout our lives we will sometimes be the giver and sometimes the receiver and both are important and worthy of conscious gratitude.  I am aware right now that the best thing I can do is be grateful and appreciative rather than trying to give back to this same person. Remembering this has been a good lesson for me.